Cambridge Shopmobility considers charges after council withdraws £50k

Annual membership fees and hire charges for use of equipment are among the changes to be considered as part of a review of Cambridge City Council’s Shopmobility service.

The review is being carried out to ensure the service can continue to operate and provide assistance for people with reduced mobility visiting the city centre, despite a loss of funding.

Similar funding cuts have already seen other similar services around the country close their doors for good in recent months.

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Shopmobility currently operates at no charge for customers whereas most similar services in the UK charge their users.

The service costs around £165,000 each year to run and in 2016 Cambridgeshire County Council withdrew the £49,500 of funding from the service.

Since then the shortfall has been paid from the city council’s General Fund.

A report set for 16 January outlines two possible options for Shopmobility to cover the loss of contributions from the county council.

This includes maintaining all the current services and subsidising the full operating costs of £165,000.

Another option is to introduce an annual membership fee and hire charges for equipment (with reduced rates for regular users).

Introducing an annual membership fee would bring the council into line with the vast majority of other Shopmobility services elsewhere in the UK. It is estimated that introducing charges will raise income to enable all of the current services to be continued.

Cllr Kevin Blencowe, executive councillor for planning policy and transport, said: “Shopmobility provides a service that is valued by many residents and visitors to the city, and we look forward to continuing to provide the service in the future. However, since the county council ended its grant, we have had to look at new ways in which we can do so.”

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